ELON -- By any objective measure, Democrats should be running away with this presidential election, political analyst Charlie Cook said this noon.
The economy is down. The party of an unpopular president is trying to stay in power. The Democratic candidate has a wide edge in money and field organization.
"Pratically every factor you point to suggests (Barack) Obama ought to win this relatively easily," said Cook, publisher of the Washington-based Cook Political Report. "But he hasn't been able to put it away."
Cook, at Elon University for a speech tonight, spoke to around two dozen reporters and editors this noon in a political science lab. In addition to the presidential race, he also talked about North Carolina's U.S. Senate race, and why incumbent Elizabeth Dole faces a tougher than expected race.
Cook said while Obama will do well with black, Hispanic and young voters, he hasn't been able to close the deal with white voters over 50. Because "They've never met anybody like Barack Obama .... We're headed toward I think a photo finish," Cook said.
He said the dynamics that are helping Obama help Democrat Kay Hagan in her race against Dole, who at one time looked almost invincible.
"A year ago, we never thought we'd be talking about it," he said. "It's not about (Hagan) It's a referendum up or down on Elizabeth Dole, and to some extent Republicans. And Kay Hagan is a vessel....
"In a normal year, Elizabeth Dole wouldn't have anything to worry about. This isn't a normal year."